EAST LANSING — Popping up over the crowd, Gavin Schilling, the forgotten man, stood out a little bit.
The Michigan State forward was behind the stage at Miles Bridges’ public press conference on Thursday night. At 6-foot-9, he represents some of the frontcourt depth that MSU sorely lacked last year. His preseason injury in 2016-17 forced Nick Ward to play the five position far earlier than expected and partially resulted in Bridges playing out of position at the four.
Now it’s a game of percentages for Schilling.
First of all, he says he will “100 percent” be back for a fifth year at Michigan State.
A few things had to happen for that. One, MSU coach Tom Izzo had to offer Schilling a roster spot. Two, Schilling had to want to stay, opting not to depart Michigan State as a graduate transfer and play immediately elsewhere.
On Thursday, Schilling said: “I’ll be back and I can’t wait to get back out there.”
As for his surgically repaired knee, Schilling said he’s at “85 percent.” He spent the entire 2017-18 season rehabbing and is just now back to lifting weights.
Schilling added that, while his strength training and conditioning were at “100 percent” last summer, “I’m at like a zero right now, conditioning-wise.”
As a graduate student, Schilling will be part of a crowded frontcourt. if you hadn’t heard. . The Spartans are also adding highly-regarded freshmen forwards Jaren Jackson Jr. and Xavier Tillman. Veteran forward Kenny Goins will also be back. Ben Carter, who also missed last season with an injury, could be granted a sixth year of eligibility and also rejoin the roster.
Regarding Carter, Izzo said Thursday that the program is hoping “to hear something any day” from the NCAA.
“I’m excited about the frontcourt,” Schilling said. “The depth we have now, it’s going to be a battle in practice. But I’m ready. I’ve been getting better. I’m ready to compete. We’re going to make each other better, which will make us better as a team.”
Schilling, a Chicago native, has played 100 games in his Michigan State career, averaging 3.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 12.0 per game. He posted 3.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game during an injury-riddled junior season in 2015-16.
Schilling said that he always knew he’d have a spot on next year’s Michigan State roster.
“I knew even when I got hurt that I was going to rehab here and stay here,” Schilling said. “I just wanted to be a leader in the year that I did sit out, so that I could come back the next year and be that same leader.”